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The Nation

Warned that a preliminary survey indicated that as many as 12% of Veterans Administration hospitals appear to have excessively high mortality rates, the VA’s chief medical officer directed researchers to produce a smaller number of questionable hospitals, the Washington Post reported. The decision by Dr. John A. Gronvall provoked an angry protest from the late Dr. Francis E. Conrad, the VA’s director of quality assurance. Conrad, who was in charge of the survey, complained in a memo that the action might be seen as “self-serving” and could make the VA “vulnerable to charges of a cover-up.” Gronvall acknowledged in an interview that he ordered researchers to come up with a lower number earlier this year, fearing that the VA could not withstand the criticism that would result from comparison between its survey and another federal survey that found 2.5% of the nation’s private hospitals had higher-than-expected mortality rates. The final study reported six problem hospitals, or 3.5% of the 172 VA hospitals.


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